September Slow Down

“You’re going to live to be a colorful old bird,” my beloved teacher David told me more than a decade ago. Those words resonated because I was born in a Chinese year of the rooster, and also because I love birds…

Thinking of myself as a colorful bird now, I can’t say that longevity feels like a blessing. While my wings are not broken, they are certainly not functioning properly. There is a huge gap between how I feel and how I would like to feel, and thus between what I can do and what I would like to do.

On March 10th I shared my future self visualization in the post “Your Future Self: A Visualization Practice.” I read that visualization out loud daily until just a few days ago when I realized that my “plans” and “goals” and “intentions” are not happening the way I imagined and desired, due to ongoing health issues.

As I shared in my post “Reaching for Orange to Calm Your Mind,” I was hoping for a diagnosis that would help me to better understand this body, so I went to see a new doctor. Well, I love my new doctor – she is really wonderful, and… she is referring me to a rheumatologist for the not-so-wonderful diagnosis of Fibromyalgia.

That diagnosis was not a surprise, because I had it in the past, but then I did a hypnosis program on myself and I was basically symptom-free for almost 3.5 years… Or was I?

Dear reader, have you ever suddenly realized that the stories you have been telling yourself and others may not have been true? Perhaps you just wanted them to be true? Have you ever experienced that sinking feeling of realizing that you need to face reality more honestly? If you answered yes to these questions, then maybe you will relate to what I’m about to share…

Sometimes a crisis, health or otherwise, functions like a truth serum. I am suddenly faced with taking an honest look at areas in which I have been in denial, such as denying how much anxiety I have, and denying how much impaired concentration I experience daily.

In doing this reality check, I am also wondering if I am really 97-98% healed of the trauma I experienced (as I shared in my post “The Helper Who Helps the Helpers”), or do I just want to be at that level of healed?

And so now I am even questioning if I really was Fibromyalgia-Free for almost 3.5 years as I claimed, or did I just want to be free of it? (Thankfully I did not publish the book I wrote about how I had healed myself from it!) Certainly I still continued to experience many symptoms and sensitivities during that time.

Sometimes we project out what we want to be true, rather than what is actually true. Have you experienced that?

Yesterday I did my month’s end review of my journal and calendar, and reflected upon the keywords I had set for August: Humility, Patience, and Peace… Well! Be careful what you ask for! I am certainly humbled by feeling sick for three weeks and having all my plans fall apart. As for patience, well, it just seems irrelevant to me now! All the striving and worrying and setting goals required patience, but now that I have no idea what is ahead, I don’t really even need patience. What will be will be, at the right time. I have lost all sense of control, so there’s nothing to be patient about. As for peace, I am feeling the peace (in moments) that naturally comes with being humble… so I guess my August prayers were answered, but not in ways I would have wanted or guessed.

So, dear reader, I am facing the reality I am in, and surrendering to my fate… and to my stars… Thus, my September keywords have arisen from the fog of this fibro flare: Slow down, Calm down, Enjoy the small things, Smile, and Cultivate a Sense of Humor.

My main intention is for September to be a slow down month for the StarFire Teja Blog, and in general.

I’ll end this post with a sweet little quote from Mother Teresa: “Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.”

Thank you for reading!

What are your keywords for September?

 

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Rooster photo by Robert Baker on Unsplash.

 

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The Helper Who Helps the Helpers

What are your roles now? Have your roles changed much throughout your life?

For some people, their roles are clear and set, such as a man who is a husband, father, and salesman for fifty years, and then he is still a husband and father when he becomes a retired salesman and grandfather.

For other people, their roles are unclear and ever changing. Take me for example! In this post I will share about my experiences with roles, and I invite you to share about yours in the comments below.

Beyond my steady roles in relationships, such as daughter, sister, sister-in-law, mother, former wife, aunt, and friend, my roles out in the working world have been unclear and ever changing. If you read my biography (on the About Page, or in the “About the Author” section of my new book, Reaching for Orange: Practices, Visualizations, & Blessings to Help You Happy Up Your Life), you will see that I have trained in many areas… And for many years I wanted to get a masters degree in social work or mental health therapy, but that didn’t happen. For a long time I felt drawn to working with prisoners, veterans, and other highly traumatized populations.

But then I experienced trauma myself.

I had learned all about PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder) in theory, but to feel it in my own mind and body was earth-shattering and rocked my entire world. Now that the dust has settled, and I am 97-98% healed from the trauma, I am re-evaluating my roles once again.

I no longer feel drawn to work with traumatized groups. I feel that I need to protect the 2-3% of trauma still remaining in my system. The counselor who I worked with told me that typically 2% of trauma remains even after a person has healed, because the trauma will always be a part of the person.

Some people, who are probably not HSPs (Highly Sensitive Persons) like me, do their own healing and then are able to jump right in and help others who have been through similar traumas. But I don’t know if I will ever be able to work directly with traumatized people… So, I am beginning to think that perhaps one of my roles as a spiritual helper is to support other people who are willing and able to work directly with traumatized people. Maybe I will be the helper who helps the helpers!

Do you work with traumatized people? If so, I bow to you for doing that difficult and important work. Do you sometimes feel like you take in the trauma energies of those you work with? Do you ever feel overwhelmed and need a sanctuary in which to nourish yourself? If so, you are among some of the people who will benefit the most from reading my new book, Reaching for Orange: Practices, Visualizations, & Blessings to Help You Happy Up Your Life. (Please also see my post, “23 Possible Benefits You May Gain Through Reading Reaching for Orange.”)

My current roles beyond relationships are blogger, author, and hospice volunteer. Visiting with dying patients and their families is very rewarding. I enjoy offering spiritual support, and I am not afraid of helping others work with their difficult emotions. I especially love helping others to relax with guided imagery tools.

What are your current roles in life?

 

Orange flower photo by MabelAmber on Pixabay.

 

What is the Title for the Book of Your Life?

Have you heard of narrative therapy? I recently learned about it, which led me to do a life story exercise that you might enjoy doing also. In this blog article I’ll share my experience with this fun tool. If you do the exercise, please let me know how it goes!

So, on the night of the Spring Equinox, I lay in bed feeling as though I had come to a dead end in my life. As I ruminated about how my computer barely still works, and about how ten years of hardships have culminated at this dead end, suddenly I had a breakthrough moment in which I took responsibility. I said to myself, “You chose to come to this dead end for some reason.”

Remembering that everything happens for a reason helped to ease the pain and sadness, and within a few days I felt myself opening again to the Field of Infinite Possibilities. I affirmed that I needed to gaze around 360 degrees and see the world with fresh eyes. Right about that time, a friend sent me an article which led me to learn about narrative therapy.

From that article I printed out the Life Story exercise. The first task is to write your Book Title. Well, I started out with a bang… without thinking much, I wrote, “Teja’s Story of Coming Full Circle to a Dead End.” Sighing, I asked myself, “Would it be possible to reframe that title in a more positive light?” Nothing positive came to me right then, so I continued on, and wrote the seven Chapter Titles, along with their descriptions. The goal of the exercise is to review your life in brief, so as to not go too deeply into any memories, especially if you are working through any traumas. (The exercise is written for healing trauma, but anyone can benefit from doing it.)

It was so neat to see the seven chapters laid out like that. It was especially wonderful to see that I really did come full circle, from Chaper 1: Life in the Nourishing Roots of Indiana (Wholesome and healthy family, religion, and farmland with lots of love and nurture) to Chapter 7: Returning Home to Roots of Indiana (Wholesome plant-based living with loving parents, writing, regrouping, and reinventing while doing daily spiritual practices and facing the realities of HSP*-ness).
*Highly Sensitive Person

The third task is to write the chapter title and description for “Into the Future” which I wasn’t able to do that day because I have no idea what I’m going to do in the future! So at that point I had to stop the exercise and eat some dark chocolate, lol. This was actually in keeping with the “Time Out” instructions at the beginning of the exercise: “Always reflect on your inner state and notice if you need a break from the exercise to find your inner calm.”

While enjoying my chocolate time out, I reflected on the beautiful perspective I had gained through that writing exercise. It gave me a deeper understanding, which helped me to say, “I forgive and bless my whole past. I forgive and bless my whole life story and all the characters in it!”

Well, a few days later when I was feeling calm and positive, I finally got around to reframing my Book Title. I am very pleased with this new version: “Teja’s Story of Coming Full Circle to Her Happy Place, Reaching for Orange!” Orange is a joyful, happy color, and on the Hindu Yoga Path it represents the fire of renunciation, of renouncing worldly attachments and desires to focus on the Happiness within oneself. Through my daily spiritual practices I experience that happiness, so my “happy place” is right here inside my very own self.

I’ll end this article with a quote from Lisa Smartt, from her book Words at the Threshold: What We Say As We’re Nearing Death… “The happiest lives are framed by narratives that allow us to imagine we have made progress…”

Do you feel that you have made progress in your life so far?

 

image courtesy Public Domain Pictures